Saturday, September 19, 2009

GIFSL* 44: : Duchamp seating for the masses...

Did you know that the artist Marcel Duchamp spent some of his working life as a librarian?  And that his 'readymade' work of art, Fountain, has (as more than one art teacher commented) a counterpart (homage? echo?) in my office?

No, not an exact replica.  Sheesh.  But this: part of my office furniture that gets regular use.  I own these - bought them over time from op shops, junk shops, garage sales, wherever.  While I have a chair in my office for visitors, I quickly learned that you only need three or five kids telling you things and wanting to talk about cabbages and kings, or schoolwork, or the outrage of Disney buying Marvel, or whatever, to know that standard size chairs aren't the answer.  With these, my small office can seat five extra kids - and when they're not in use, the stools are Duchamped from the overhead beam.  Practical Art! (I'm happy to acknowledge that it was one of my school assistants who had the inspiration of hanging these up).
I know not every teacher librarian has an office - but I do know that my glass box at the library entrance has become part of how I teach and work.  Can't count the number of times every day, every week, throughout the year, that I have conversations here, hunt things on the computer here, think through projects, advise, listen, offer tissues, dispense advice, dispense discipline, solve problems, encourage, mentor.... door open, door closed (sometimes it's so valuable to be able to close the door).  

I have a few oddities hung on the wall, too, personalising the space and providing conversation starters with kids and staff.  Sadly, I'm given to lying about them (yup, that old photo is Great Aunt Grace...).  Maybe one day I'll tell you about the photo that's part of the biggest lie - I've had a LOT of fun with that (and so have the kids who've worked it out and then participated in its perpetuation...!!)
It's part of our work, though, isn't it?  The daily meeting and greeting and listening and engaging in lots of small ways, sometimes educational, sometimes welfare, often both.  Those mismatched stools earn their keep.



*GIFSL = Good Ideas for School Libraries

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